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What to Expect When Getting a Painting Estimate

Updated: Sep 22, 2021



The Standard All Painting Companies Should Strive to Meet When Giving You a Painting Estimate

Are you planning to hire a painting professional, but you aren’t sure what to expect during the initial consultation and estimate process? Here’s the inside skinny!

It is important to keep in mind that every interior or exterior house painting company will have its own process when giving an estimate, but there are a few general standards you should come to expect. Always remember the most important aspect of the appointment process is the YOUR needs. As a potential customer, you should always feel your thoughts are heard, your questions are answered and your needs are met. The purpose of the estimate should always be to help YOU make the best decision for your home and your piece of mind (not the contractor’s.)


Booking a painting estimate Estimates for residential jobs can be booked in a few ways. The most common ways are via email, online at their website, or by phone. As the potential client you should expect to hear back from a company representative shortly after your initial contact. If they don’t get back to you in a timely manner, then it could be an indicator of their level of commitment to customer service.

Once they call you back, you will probably be asked a few basic preliminary questions regarding your job. Then, once the scope of work and desired timeline is understood, you will be marked down for an in-person, walk through appointment.

The day before your appointment you should hear from your estimator. This is a two-fold courtesy call to remind you of the appointment day and time, and to give you the option of rescheduling if necessary.

On the day of the appointment You should expect the estimator to arrive on time. Often, the estimator may arrive a little early to further ensure your time is being respected, but they shouldn’t be late or approach the door until the exact time of the appointment.

You should recognize the estimator by their professional attire, as they should be wearing a company uniform. The company vehicle should be appropriately branded and professional looking too.

Estimators should also arrive to your job site in a professional and positive manner, and bring every tool they will need for the appointment. (No asking to borrow your ladder or measuring tape!)

Explaining your paint project When entering your home, the estimator should always follow common courtesy rules, and not act like a pushy sales person. They should have boot covers on their feet or remove their shoes entirely before entering your residence to protect the integrity of the floor. They should lead conversations by means of active listening rather than going on long sales pitches. During this meeting, you should speak to the estimator freely about your job ideas and visions, which includes any of your important concerns.

Your estimator should thoroughly answer all of your questions and also provide you with further information about their company, such as a pamphlet, a Facebook profile and a business card. This information lets you get a better feel for the company overall. Often there will be information about the history of the company, the company mission statement, client reviews, frequently asked questions and portfolios.

Once you have explained the job in its entirety, the estimator will then take measurements, snap pictures (with your permission) and may ask more questions. It is important you allow the estimator plenty of time to take notes of the job, which often includes drawings and layouts, so that he or she can provide you with an accurate estimate.

Review the painting materials and process The estimator’s next step is to educate you on the products and materials involved to complete your project. The estimator should explain the paint products their company uses, which include the type, grade, finish and brand options. You should also be able to provide your own materials for the job if you want.

It’s a good idea to have the estimator go over the steps of the project from start to finish with you — which varies from job to job — but often involves prepping, paint removal, priming, paint application, touch-ups, cleanup and final inspection. Briefly walking you through the entire process will help you better understand the flow of the job, get an estimated completion date, and make you to feel actively involved in your home painting project.

Delivering the quote A professional estimator should be able to deliver at least a ballpark quote on the spot for most residential projects. This will allow you the opportunity to go over pricing with them in person before they leave. However, if the estimator needs more time to finalize calculations, you should expect to hear back within the next 24-48 hours.

The estimator will crunch the numbers, which includes materials and labor costs, and then provide a formal quote with detailed specifications, an estimated project length, and the total cost. It should be written and submitted to you by email or in person. Sometimes an estimator may schedule a separate appointment to bring your quote to you in person, but that is not always the case.

Making your decision Now comes the hard part. Which contractor should you choose? Who will be the best fit for your home and budget? The following advice should help you make the best choice for your project.

It’s a good idea to start with a general idea of what an average paint job like yours should cost in your area by checking an online estimator such as homewyse.com (either interior or exterior). You may encounter large variations in the prices quoted by different companies. However, there are really only two reasons that a given price will be dramatically different from the average for your area:

  • The estimator made a mistake in terms of the total labor and materials estimated to provide you with an industry standard level of quality; or

  • The quote you are comparing is not “apples to apples”, i.e. the company doesn’t plan to tackle your project in a same way as everyone else or the scope of work isn’t the same.

For this reason, price shouldn’t be your biggest concern. Given that companies are comparable, what should set one apart from the rest is if you can trust them to provide the best overall experience. Are they someone who you can trust will maintain good communication with you throughout the project? Do they have a lot of good reviews from previous customers that rave about things like quality, timeliness and attention to detail? Overall, whichever company gives you a “warm fuzzy” is probably the right one for you.

Schedule a start date for your painting job

After the quote has been submitted, and you choose who you’d like to move forward with, you should reach out to the estimator as soon as possible to schedule a start date. Most professional painters will be in high demand, especially during busy seasons, and you will want to secure a spot in their schedule before it fills up for your desired time frame.

Most painting companies will ask for a deposit to get confirmed in their schedule. However, it shouldn’t be more than 50% of the overall cost of the project, and they should guarantee to refund at least most of it if you decide to change your mind.

In closing, you should always work with a painting company that is both professional and personable. The overall experience of painting your home, which starts with the estimating process, should be one that is easy and comfortable for you.

If you’d like to see how Arclight Painting could help you through the estimation process for your project, contact us now for a free estimate.

Have you hired a painter? Leave a comment below and share what lessons you learned during your experience.

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